Rewriting History

RewritingHistoryby Jerry Richardson   8/4/14
The most heinous possible lie is a rewrite of history. I don’t mean correcting an actual mistake; I mean intentionally changing actual history. And changing it for self-serving reasons; that’s rewriting history.

Who now is attempting this?  Another of the usual suspects, a liberal “professor.”

“Professor Danielle Allen, at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, has proposed a closer reading of the Declaration of Independence in order to prove that the country was intended to be socialist all along.
“Note the punctuation after the phrase “and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Thomas Jefferson seemed to put a semicolon there.  Some think he put a period and/or a dash.  Professor Allen thinks there was a dash only and that a speck of ink landed in the empty space, and subsequently people thought – incorrectly – that the speck was a period.  This led, in her dramatic verdict, to a “serious misunderstanding.”
‘The professor’s point, however, is that if there is no period, then government’s role is one of those truths we hold to be self-evident
Everyone agrees that the Founding Fathers were intent on making the government as limited as possible, leaving each person free to pursue his own version of happiness.  This professor thinks that giving some extra prestige to government, by manipulating the punctuation, increases the socialist possibilities.”
  —Princeton Professor

Here we have an absurd attempt to rewrite history: Make the Declaration of Independence support socialism; and how?

“Professor Allen thinks there was a dash only and that a speck of ink landed in the empty space, and subsequently people thought – incorrectly – that the speck was a period.  This led, in her dramatic verdict, to a “serious misunderstanding.”

Well so what?  Even if we take the Shakespearian approach: “Out, damn’d spot!”  Even if the period were just a spot of splattered-ink, followed by a dash, it would actually make no difference in the proper and historical interpretation of what follows the rights clause: in all cases the words, “that to secure these right (or ends).”  The word these is a demonstrative pronoun (“Demonstrative pronouns are used to replace specific people or things that have been previously mentioned (or are understood from context.”).

Incidentally, the photocopy of “The opening of the original printing of the Declaration, printed on July 4, 1776 under Jefferson’s supervision” seems clearly to show (take a look for yourself) two dashes (a long one followed by a short one) which correctly described would not be a “dash”, but what is today called an “em dash” (an extended dash).
Wikipedia, Photocopy, opening of the original printing of the Declaration of Independence

Definition, “em dash: A symbol (—) used in writing and printing to indicate a break in thought or sentence structure, to introduce a phrase added for emphasis, definition, or explanation, or to separate two clauses.” —em dash

Someone really has to be straining extra hard—attempting to rewrite history—to interpret the clause “That to secure these rights (or ends)” refers to anything other than the rights enumerated in the preceding rights clause.  And of course someone, Professor Allen, is straining extra hard in her attempt to support her favored ideology: Socialism.

Is it possible for anyone to actually believe that Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers wanted to institute an intrusive socialist government?

You might think not. Think again. It is obviously possible for a liberal to willfully believe anything, if it supports their ideology.

After fighting for freedom from the abuses of King George III’s government, the founding fathers wanted a very limited government; and a very limited government is absolutely never a socialist government.  Wasn’t then; isn’t now; won’t be in the future.

Does it seem likely that a man, Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence, and expressed the following sentiments, would support socialism in any manner?

“…a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government…”
““Our wish is that…[there may be] maintained that state of property, equal or unequal, which results to every man from his own industry or that of this fathers.”
“”To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association–‘the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.'”
Jefferson on Redistribution

Thomas Jefferson leaves no doubt, for an honest explorer of history—can Professor Allen qualify?—that he did not believe that the United States was established to forcible take from some to give to others.  This, redistribution, is what Barack Obama, Professor Allen, and others of their ilk wish to force on America; and it is socialism to the core.

What follows are several different printed variations of the pertinent part, for our discussion, of the Declaration of Independence.

Please notice that after the disputed punctuation, which I list and highlight in all cases, there always follows the words, “that to secure these rights (or ends).”

The disputed punctuation  = . (period)

“…with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men,”
The Final Text of the Declaration of Independence July 4 1776

The disputed punctuation  = ; (semicolon)

“…they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men,”
Thomas Jefferson’s unedited draft of the Declaration of Independence

The disputed punctuation  = — (em dash, extended hyphen)

“…with certain unalienable Rights,  that  among  these  are  Life,  Liberty,  and the  pursuit  of  happiness—That  to  secure  these Rights,  Governments  are  instituted  among  Men,”
The Declaration of Independence used by US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The disputed punctuation  = : (colon)

“…with inherent and certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;”
Jefferson, Thomas (2012-08-15). The Works of Thomas Jefferson  (Kindle Locations 5282).  Lexicos Publishing

The disputed punctuation  = . (period, followed by new paragraph)

“…with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,”
Wikipedia, Annotated text of the engrossed Declaration

Why do I say that the most heinous possible lie is a rewrite of history?

It is the ultimate degree of totalitarian control over a society.

George Orwell stated it best in his novel, 1984“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” 
© 2014, Jerry Richardson • (1222 views)

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14 Responses to Rewriting History

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    The important to remember is that the precise punctuation is actually irrelevant here. Indeed, my copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution from Cato is punctuated with just the dash, as the not-so-good professor claims — and I doubt they believed this converted the document into a call for maximal government. The point here is not actually the rewriting of history, but rather the deliberately false reading of the document. It’s sort of like the liberals who act as if “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” was intended as a limitation of the right of self-defense instead of an explanation of why it’s a natural right.

    • Jerry Richardson says:

      I must take issue with one of your statements:

      “The point here is not actually the rewriting of history, but rather the deliberately false reading of the document.”

      The point, with me, is very much the actual or the potential for “rewriting of history”.

      I couldn’t care less how much false reading (reading in error) or even deliberate false reading (intentional misreading) liberal professor do. In my opinion, what does immense harm is when the false readers begin to put their thoughts into writing (go public), which surely Professor Allen is considering, if not already doing.

      I accept it as a truism that in order to deliberately rewrite history, one must first at least pretend to misread it; i.e., misinterpret it. But it is not the initial step of misreading that concerns me most, it is the final product, rewriting (changing what is actually true).

      A good example is Howard Zinn’s mutilation of American History. Zinn’s book, “A People’s History of the United States” sold more than 2 million copies and its lies still infect many minds. If he had kept his lies to himself, out of the public and out of print, he wouldn’t have intellectually wounded anyone other than himself.

      It is one thing to have a lie in your own mind, it is entirely another thing to commit it to print.

      Jerry Richardson

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, I was speaking of this one particular case. Given that the punctuation apparently is not universally agreed on, this was not a literal case of “rewriting history”, but of deliberate misinterpretation. In other cases (e.g., Michael Bellesiles) there is deliberate rewriting of history for the sake of pushing an agenda (in his case, gun prohibition), and I do agree that such behavior is reprehensible, as is all such intellectual dishonesty.

        • Jerry Richardson says:


          You have a valid point, and I accept it. And I thank you for helping me clarify my thoughts. I realize now, that I was using the term ‘rewrite’ in the same figure-of-speech sense that Conservatives (myself included) often speak of activist judges as ‘rewriting’ the Constitution. In, both cases, in the strict literal sense ‘misinterpret’ or ‘misread’ is, at least initially, correct. What concerns me is that the final result of efforts such as Professor Allen’s will amount to ‘rewriting’.

          Jerry Richardson

        • David Ray says:

          I’m surprised that Michael Bellesiles hasn’t been given a job at CNN. After all, Chelsea Clinton got her a nice sinecure at NBC.
          Does MSNBC know that Ward Churchill is free these days?
          (Hell, even Malia Obama is an “advisor” on the CBS set of “Extant”, but then again her mom had “VP for External and Community Affairs” in the Chicago Hospital that retired that useless $300,000 a year position when Michelle quit.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      The point here is not actually the rewriting of history, but rather the deliberately false reading of the document.

      How is that not pretty much that same thing, Timothy?

      • Timothy Lane says:

        To me, rewriting history means falsifying the events. Claiming the Declaration of Independence doesn’t say what it actually says would be a good example. Deliberately reading it falsely claims that its meaning must be (falsely) changed even though the actual wording is the same. They’re simply different means of falsifying historical documents.

  2. Anniel says:

    This woman is nuts. But she has lots of company, some are just smarter and a little bit more subtle than she is.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think “nuts” is a succinct way of putting it. One could also divine from this several things:

      1) The inherent deceitfulness of the Left.

      2) The intent of the Left to overturn all that they did not have a hand in producing.

      3) The propensity to overlook reality and instead just make things up inside their own heads. We see this wherever the Left enacts their policies. There is a disconnect between what they (supposedly) want them to do and what they actually do. It connects also with the idea Rush has that “Words mean things.” To the Left, whatever “vision” is floating around their flighty heads trump words (and thus contracts). To limit these self-anointed Einsteins to a contract such as the Constitution is thus to limit the amount of “good” they can do and the amount of self-congratulations they can bask in.

      I don’t agree with everything that Michael Savage says, to put it mildly. But one thing he does say that seems to have merit is that “Liberalism is a mental disorder.” Other than outright treachery, what else could explain this bizarre bit of “reasoning”?

      Or, in other words, “nuts.”

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Stanley Kurtz wrote an article about the battle taking place in high schools to re-write the history of the U.S.A. I believe this problem is even worse than that taking place at universities.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Very interesting, but the problem is the lack of reliable information as of yet. The best approach, it seems to me, would be to challenge the College Board to justify the secrecy, and to argue that it’s safest to assume that any such secrecy is intended to allow the stealth manipulation of history courses (as Kurtz suggests). But we don’t know for sure that that’s the case until we actually can find out what’s in their proposed courses. (It seems bitterly ironic that the College Board — denounced by liberals as racist because the results aren’t what they’d prefer — would help them out intellectually. But that’s what happens when the Enemy has taken control of the culture, and can control what is generally considered acceptable or unacceptable views.)

  4. David Ray says:

    Of course we’ve had a deliberate deleting of history by Sandy Berger. He destroyed several pages of classified material. (We can’t have material embarrassing the Clintons, now can we?)

  5. Timothy Lane says:

    I just heard on O’Reilly that the federal government has just decided to change its buzzword from “Native American” to “American Indian”. Of course, many of us who eschew political correctness were already using that term. I won’t stop just because the Enemy Within agrees for once. In a few years they’ll change again anyway.

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